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Ice Dam Problems?
Looks like fun huh? It's this or water pouring through your ceiling!
Ice dams can cause serious structural damage from water leaks
mold growth, or just by the sheer weight as can be seen here
SYMPTOMS vs PROBLEMS
By: Brad Lindsay, President Horizon Energy Systems Copyright 01/01
The reality? Ice dams are not a problem. They are a symptom of your roof getting warm enough to melt snow. Therefore, keeping your roof deck below 32 degrees will make the symptoms go away.
Since conventional insulation only slows heat flow (R-factor..."R" represents resistance), heat which is radiated from the top of the insulation is warming the roof where it is the closest to top of the insulation...near the outside walls. This melts the snow, causes water to flow and hence the creation of ice dams. When the water flows beyond the warmth of the attic it either runs over the edge of the roof and creates icicles or freezes along the edge of house creating the ice dam.
As the dam gets thicker (taller), melted water backs up and will eventually start leaking under the shingles, into the attic where it will eventually leak through the ceiling. As I write this I'm in Detroit (Jan 01), and read in the news yesterday about two homes that caught fire due to shorting of electrical wiring caused by water from ice dams. Tonight (1/4/01), on channel 4 news, a woman is seen entering her home with a respirator and protective suit. It seems the water seeping into her home fostered a toxic mold that was affecting her family's health. Her home is now uninhabitable and must be decontaminated before occupancy....
FACT: Icicles and ice dams are visual proof you are melting snow with your heating dollars.
FACT: Reducing this heat loss with our patented Thermal Control Membrane (TCM) will eliminate
or greatly reduce this problem. Simply roll out over your existing attic insulation.
Graphic of an ice dam courtesy of the Detroit News: click here
TCM installed over existing insulation keeps heat in your home
which prevents ice dams and lowers your heating costs. During the
hot summer months, TCM reflects heat away from your attic insulation.
Once the TCM is installed, you can forget about ever adding more insulation to your attic again. Thermal Control Membrane does not settle, is not affected by dust, moisture or gravity and will save you money and keep you comfortable FOREVER....guaranteed!
*Note: As of Jan 1, 2000 fiberglass manufacturers have been forced to disclose warnings on the bags of insulation that it is a "possible cancer causing product" We suggest you read all warning labels before purchase.
For testimonials from our customers, click here
Solutions for Ice Dams
Install our patented Thermal Control Membrane (TCM) in your attic. This will keep the heat in during the cold winter months, help keep your roof colder (which helps eliminate ice dams), and reflects the heat out in the summer. Click here to see how it works. The reflective properties of TCM don't allow heat from the insulation to radiate to the roof and melt the snow which causes ice dams. The added benefit? TCM will also keep your family more comfortable during hot summer months and lower your A/C bill.
Properly Installed venting
Fact: Most homes are severely under vented. Fact is, few meet minimum code! We have found many cases where previous gable or soffit venting has been completely covered by siding or plastic "no paint" soffit trim. It is my opinion (formed from twenty years of home inspections), that there should be an attic vent opening between each rafter at the soffit and adequate exhaust venting along the peak of the roof. There has been a trend among roofers, remodelers and new home builders to install ridge vents across the top of the roof and many times removing existing roof venting. A news station in Detroit aired that "it is recommended to remove your existing roof vents and install a running ridge vent across the top of your roof".
Our research has shown most vents installed in the snow belt are either ridge vents or 12" square roof vents. Why is this a problem? If you get more than 3" of snow, the vents you are relying on to vent the warm, moist air from your attic are plugged with snow when you need them the most! This scenario most likely is a key ingredient in the formation of ice dams and mold growth in your attic. Unfortunately, adding the correct venting after the home is built is both difficult and costly.
Our testing has shown a dormer vent allows for better air flow than a continuous ridge vent. We were surprised to find this during our testing and now recommend the use of them in both hot and cold climates.
When outside air can enter the attic above the insulation it prevents the roof from getting warmed by the heat radiated or convected out of the attic insulation.
Air Chutes (aka soffit baffles, insulation trays)
Air chutes are installed between the attic insulation and the roof decking.
Here you can see baffles stapled up to the bottom of the roof decking. This does two things:
1) Limits thermal conduction from the warm insulation to the roof decking.
2) Provides air flow between the soffits and the attic area.
This allows proper venting in the summer and keeps the insulation from creating an easy path to the roof deck during the winter.
Made from cardboard, plastic or foam, these are typically installed when a building is being constructed. Installing them after the insulation is installed is quite a task but necessary.
IMPORTANT: At no point should there be attic insulation in direct contact with the roof decking. This is called "thermal bridging ". Home Depot has them in the building material section near the venting isle. I have installed all types and find the black plastic ones shown here the easiest to work with. They cost a little more but anything that cuts down the time spent rolling through attic insulation is worth it.
Be sure and remove any insulation plugging the area between the attic and the soffit. Then slide the soffit baffle in and staple it up with a swing tacker, or aka hammer tacker. Home Depot has these as well. I recommend the Arrow brand and 5/16"" staples.
Properly installed insulation
Since ice dams form above the exterior walls, it is here that the focus should be insuring the correct installation of attic insulation. Your attic insulation should be thick enough to cover your ceiling rafters and not have any ceiling rafters exposed. It is recommended to blow in cellulose to level the attic before adding the RBS Chips.
If you are having insulation installed, be sure and relate this to your contractor prior to adding more insulation. Air chutes installed between the roof deck and insulation also help to eliminate ice dams.
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